Physics Paper; Acid Rain

Danielle Forrest

Acid Rain

Acid rain, or acid deposition is a form of precipitation that has elevated hydrogen levels, or a low pH. It is very dangerous to plants and forests as well as bodies of water and the sea creatures that reside there, and the infrastructures of buildings. This is because of the acidity of the rain. Rainwater has a pH of around 5.2. Acidic rain falls under a pH of 5. “As of 2000, the most acidic rain falling in the U.S. has a pH of about 4.3.”(1) and it has only risen since then. It can seriously alter a large body of water by raising the acidity making the pH dangerously low for the inhabitants of the body of water to reside. It is also dangerous to infrastructures as it can dissolve and corrode outdoor structures. Acid rain is a serious environmental problem and a dangerous form of destruction.
“Acid Rain is caused by pollution containing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and ozone ( SOý, NOx, and Oý ) being released into the air.”(2) Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and ozone are absorbed into clouds which, after a chemical change, gives life to acid rain. The two most important acids in acid rain are sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and nitric acid (HNO3). One of the causes of acid rain is the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are used for many things including transportation and power generation. Fossil fuels create Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide which are both dangerous and harmful gases. Because of the production of these gases, they are absorbed into the air and through chemical processes released as acid rain. In the U.S. specifically, “2/3 of all SO2 and 1/4 of all NOx come from electric power generation that relies on burning fossil fuels, like coal.”(2) Acid rain can also develop from natural sources such as volcanoes or decaying vegetation but is not a huge addition to the SO2 and NOx.levels that are already produced by man-made sources. Sulphur Dioxides or SO2 which is derived from fossil fuels, reacts...